Spring Break Is Too Long

Jackson Pieters breaks up the break.

As far as British universities go (but certainly not American ones), St Andrews finishes its academic year relatively early. Most of us wrap up our final exams and are booking tickets to sun-kissed beaches and other destinations well before the first of June.

But what if we could go a step further, and finish up the year even earlier?

At the risk of being a killjoy (I might as well just embrace it at this point), I’d like to make one overtly lame suggestion that might just benefit us all: Cut out that second week of spring break.

Though I take solace in the fact that I’m not the only Stand writer wishing to cut back on vacation time generously allotted to us by the university, I fear that I would be alone — understandably — in this proposal. Surely limiting our well-earned spring holiday to one week instead of two is an idea only conceivable by a tyrannical puritan or the world’s biggest self-righteous prig. But hear me out.

We all remember the classic maths dilemma from primary school in which we were presented with two options: Take a hundred pounds now, or one penny doubled every day for a couple of months. Of course the former option is much more attractive and promises immediate wealth, but the latter presents the far greater value when time and patience are applied. This, of course, is the underlying basis of investment. Rather than taking the money then and there, we learned it is much more rewarding to stockpile, and reap the benefits in the future rather than in the now. Giving a man a fish vs teaching a man to fish — that kind of thing.

Is that the best analogy? Probably not. Am I a hypocrite for using my second week of spring break to travel and enjoy life outside of the Bubble, yet still make this proposal? Yes, definitely. But I suppose it’s the thought that counts.

Because, simply put, two weeks is an unnecessarily long time for a spring break. This is especially true when one is faced with the alternative, attractive prospect of tacking on yet another week to our much lengthier summer break; another week to complete an internship, to earn some extra dough through that summer job, or to relax in the reliable summer sun instead of the always-uncertain climate of early spring. Most enticing, though, is the appealing prospect of finishing exams earlier than usual. Much like tearing off a band-aid, exams are far less painful when done sooner and faster.

The fact of the matter is that two weeks is also an incredibly awkward amount of time for a break. It’s too lengthy to make for a casual holiday, but it’s also not long enough to justify a return home, if you, like me, are a foreign student or live far from St Andrews. It’s a much shorter break than English universities (which have a month for spring break, but pay for it by not finishing their final semester until mid-June), and longer than the week-long spring break model used in North America and most of Europe. Meanwhile Scottish universities appear to be stuck right in the middle.

For these reasons, maybe it’s time we begin to simply consider a one-week spring break and thus an extended summer. It’s just a suggestion. Don’t lynch me please.

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